Friday News Roundup: NM To See More Wet Weather Through Weekend

Aug 1, 2014

Credit Jared via Flickr / Creative Commons License

New Mexico To See More Wet Weather Through Weekend - The Associated Press

Forecasters says New Mexico's weather will be wet, wet and more wet today and into the weekend, with the possibility of flash flooding Friday afternoon and evening due to a very moist air mass remaining over the state.

The National Weather Service says the risk of flash flooding today will be greatest near and west of the central mountain chain.

The forecasters also predict heavy rain in the southern mountains and along the lower Rio Grande on Saturday, then further west along the Arizona border on Sunday and Monday.

The latest five-day total precipitation forecast calls for an additional 1-3 inches for many areas of the western two-thirds of New Mexico with locally higher amounts up to near five inches possible through Sunday night.

Albuquerque Teachers Have Tentative Agreement - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

The Albuquerque school district and the teachers' union have a tentative agreement on a new contract.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the tentative agreement includes a 3 percent salary increase for teachers and that the district retreated on its proposed changes on rules for transferring teachers.

The district had wanted administrators to have broader authority to transfer teachers between schools, but Union President Ellen Bernstein says transfer rules wouldn't change under the tentative agreement.

Santa Fe Hospital Rejects Offer; Contract Expires - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and the union representing the Santa Fe hospital's nurses and medical technicians remain at odds in contract talks that have seen their latest agreement expire.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the contract expired at midnight Thursday, a few hours after the hospital told the union that it was rejecting the union's last counterproposal.

Hospital spokesman Arturo Delgado said the union's proposal didn't change what he called "key concepts," while union leader Fonda Osborn said she's frustrated by the hospital's response.

Union members previously had rejected the hospital's last proposal.

Osborn says the hundreds of nurses and technicians represented by the union remain on the job. The union has withdrawn a strike notice.

Plan For Roswell Horse Slaughterhouse May Be Over - The Associated Press

A company's plan to open a horse slaughterhouse in Roswell may be over.

The lawyer for Valley Meat Co. has submitted a letter to the New Mexico Environmental Department withdrawing the plant's application for a permit to operate a wastewater discharge lagoon.

A permit from state regulators is needed to discharge blood and other slaughtering wastes into tanks and lagoons on the company's property.

Attorney Blair Dunn wrote that Valley Meat was withdrawing its application "and any plans for operating a livestock processing facility at this location at this time."

Dunn also noted "predatory litigation" by state Attorney General Gary King, who filed a lawsuit seeking a permanent order blocking horse slaughter in New Mexico.

The last domestic horse slaughterhouses closed in 2007, a year after Congress withheld inspection funding.

Lab Worker Says He Was Fired For Anti-Nuke Paper - The Associated Press

A former member of Los Alamos National Laboratory's non-proliferation team says he was fired after writing an article for a nonprofit web site in support of abolishing nuclear weapons.

James Doyle says he was fired on July 8th after after 17 years of service.  This was several months after lab officials claimed his article raised classification concerns. Doyle says the article had been cleared for publication by the proper officials before it was published.

A Los Alamos spokesman says the lab doesn't discuss personnel matters.

Doyle's attorney Mark Zaid says he believes there was clear retaliation, and he is pursuing administrative remedies for his client.

Compromise VA Bill Includes Albuquerque Facility - The Associated Press

A new clinical research and pharmacological center in Albuquerque is among new Veterans Affairs medical facilities that would be opened under a House-Senate compromise bill to shorten delays in treating veterans.

The legislation authorizes $1.3 billion to lease 27 new outpatient clinics and other medical facilities in 18 states and Puerto Rico.

Most of the new facilities will not begin operation for at least two years.

The legislation awaits President Obama’s signature.

'Hiroshima' Los Alamos Protest Planned - The Associated Press

Peace activists say they will hold another protest against nuclear weapons in Los Alamos near the anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Activists are scheduled to hold a rally tomorrow starting at the Ashley Pond and will walk through the town carrying signs calling for nuclear disarmament.

The protest comes a year after six protesters were arrested at the gates of Los Alamos National Laboratory on the anniversary of the atomic bomb dropping. A judge later threw out trespassing charges against the group and declined to give the protesters jail time.

Los Alamos is, of course, where the world's first atomic bomb was developed during World War II. It was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945 and on Nagasaki three days later.

New Mexico Still Pursuing Tesla Battery Plant - The Associated Press

New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela says New Mexico is still competing for a battery factory planned by electric car maker Tesla Motors.

Barela says "we are still very much in the game" and the state had discussions with high-ranking Tesla officials this week.

His comments came after Tesla confirmed it had broken ground on a possible plant site near Reno, Nevada but the company also made clear it's continuing to evaluate locations in other states.

New Mexico officials have declined to disclose details of the incentives offered to Tesla. Barela has said talks are being kept quiet at Tesla's request.

Worker Killed After Pipeline Explode Near Artesia - The Associated Press and KOB TV

Authorities say a worker is dead in southeastern New Mexico after a pipeline exploded on an oil field south of Artesia.

Eddy County deputies say 21-year-old Fabian Martinez and three others were in a pit cutting a pipeline and disassembling PVC pipe when the pipeline exploded on Wednesday.

KOB TV reports that three workers were able to escape, but Martinez was trapped inside the pit by the pipe.

Investigators say Martinez succumbed to the hydrogen gas fumes released in the explosion.

Diversified Oil Field Services says the accident is under investigation.

Candidate Eyes Sunland Park Voting Fraud For Lost - The Associated Press and Las Cruces Sun-News

Another primary election candidate is citing possible voter fraud in a troubled New Mexico border town for her loss to a Democratic competitor.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Merrie Lee Soules announced this week she will challenge the outcome of her race to become the party's nominee to the District 5 Public Regulation Commission. Soules lost to contender Sandy Jones of Truth or Consequences by 128 votes.

But Soules says she suspects there was election fraud in Sunland Park — a charge also made by Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, who lost in the primary by 16 votes.

In 2012, Sunland Park drew national attention after a mayoral candidate was charged with extortion for secretly recording an opponent receiving a lap dance from a topless woman in his campaign office.

New Mexico Schools Awarded Fitness Centers - The Associated Press

A national foundation has awarded $100,000 fitness centers to three New Mexico schools under a program to encourage more physical activity by students and fight childhood obesity.

The National Foundation for Governors' Fitness Councils and Gov. Susana Martinez announced the awards yesterday for Jemez Valley Elementary and Middle Schools in Jemez Pueblo, East San Jose Elementary School in Albuquerque and Mesa Elementary School in Shiprock.

No state taxpayer money is going for the fitness centers. The foundation receives funding from private companies, and it will pay for installation of the fitness equipment.

Schools apply to the foundation for the fitness centers, which include cardiovascular and strength training equipment.

The foundation's chairman is fitness guru Jake Steinfeld, who has "Body by Jake" exercise equipment, workout books and instructional videos.

Busy Summer For Film Industry In New Mexico - The Associated Press

The New Mexico Film Office says another project is coming to the state, bringing to 10 the number of movies and television shows currently being produced in New Mexico.

Film Office Director Nick Maniatis says the feature "Kepler's Dream" will film in Albuquerque and Santa Fe County at the end of July through the end of August.

The movie is a story of spirited girl trying to heal her broken family. It's based on the award-winning novel by Juliet Bell. The book was inspired by her grandmother, who was resident of Albuquerque for more than fifty years.

The movie stars Isabella Blake-Thomas, Holland Taylor, Sean Patrick Flanery, Kelly Lynch, David Hunt, Steven Michael Quezada and Kelly Hu.

Maniatis says the production will employ at least 60 New Mexico crew members, nine New Mexico actors and approximately 50 local background talent.